Hana finds life is much more segregated on the mainland, and Kenichi finds himself promoted. But what is going on behind the scenes in the Shogun’s castle? Find out in Ronin Island #4!
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Colorist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 5, 2019
Previously in Ronin Island: The Shogun sent a boatload of men to the Island to conscript men to fight for him. After an attack by the monstrous Byōnin, the handful of them who are left prepare to return with General Sato. Hana is going with him, as well as Master Ito. Kenichi does not want to be left behind, so he joins them. On the mainland, they pass through the fields where people were killed by the Great Wind. They also find that the Shogun, instead of staying in the castle, has come out with a bunch of retainers and is under attack. Hana saves the day, but when the Shogun appears, he complains about the Korean girl having a sword, relieves General Sato from his duty, and makes Kenichi the ruler of the Island.
LORDS AND SERVANTS
The Shogun returns to his castle at the start of Ronin Island #4, loudly announcing Kenichi as the new General Administrator for Southern Affairs. Then he presents Kenichi with a golden suit of Samurai armor. He allows Ito, as Kenichi’s advisor, to join them at their dinner banquet but decrees that Hana can “stay with the rest of the menials.” This does bother Kenichi, but it also places Hana somewhere she can ask questions.
At the banquet, the Shogun tells the story of their rescue, how Kenichi saved the day, which bothers Kenichi. Ito tries to ask about the Byōnin, but the Shogun glosses over this to tell stories about his own heroism. Hana finds out that the head physician, Dr. Kuramoto, may know more, and she goes to find him, running into Ito along the way and bringing him with her.
When they get to the Doctor’s rooms, Hana finds out the horrible truth. Dr. Kuramoto is experimenting on people using samples of the fungus from the Great Wind. He was hoping to find a way to protect people, but all he’s managed to do so far is to turn them into Byōnin. One thing leads to another, and the tainted gas is released, affecting the doctor and Master Ito as he tries to slow down the monsters. Knowing there is no cure, Hana strikes him down as he attacks.
The Shogun decides to flee, taking his people now to the Island. Hana confronts Sato about remaining with the Shogun, but he sees this as the best way to help his people. Kenichi makes a side comment to Hana about her preventing him from killing Sato earlier. She gets angry, and Kenichi makes another comment about her killing Master Ito. But he also gives up the fancy armor and leaves the Shogun with the intent of getting to the Island first to warn them.
I like this story. There are so many levels to it, and so many imperfect characters who are all doing what they think is best. The irony of this is that it sets them at cross-purposes. The motto of the Island is, “Together in Strength,” and right now it’s hard to imagine how any of them could possibly work together. And as awful as it is, the Byonin as a representation of the horrors of chemical/biological warfare gives the story a terrifyingly relevant feel as well.
FROM THE CAPRICIOUS TO THE AWFUL
The art of Ronin Island #4 really captures the Shogun as someone who thinks so highly of himself, and has put himself above everyone, that he doesn’t seem to have a clue of what is real in the world anymore. His confidence is so extreme, and he appears oblivious to the people around him. To be fair, they present carefully blank faces to him, and it is only behind his back that we get a sense of their tension, and a hint of what they really feel.
There are some terrific parallels made between the banquet for the fancy people, and dinner for the servants. One meal is stiff and formal; the other so much more convivial. Some of the other people Hana meets are Thai, and they have their own distinctive clothing and hairstyles. I like this attention to detail almost as much as I like the way Hana (Kenichi also, but we see this more in Hana) tries to hold tight to some of the ideals of the Island, where people are people, and they work together, no matter what their background.
The segment where people are transformed – against their will, I might add, into Byōnin and the subsequent is dynamic and terrifying, especially when we see just how fast the gas works on people. The monsters retain some bit of their personhood, so others do recognize them, and it makes it all the more horrifying.
BOTTOM LINE: HANA AND KENICHI ARE GROWING UP FAST
The two young people at the center of Ronin Island #4 barely have a chance to think about what they’re doing in this new situation they find themselves in. Being defenders of the Island suddenly comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of situations they are not prepared for. Seeing how they come to grips with this makes this tightly crafted book well worth the read.
Ronin Island #4
The source of the monstrous Byōnin is much closer to home than anyone was expecting.